The most social Olympics ever

Karima LanfrancoThe Olympics have always been known for their ability to uplift the human spirit, for bringing people together, for highlighting athletes and their journeys to excellence and for reminding all of us that dreams are possible.

This year, there was an added twist, brought to you by your favorite generational group: the millennials.

On July 26, Ryan Seacrest hosted the first-ever “Social Media Opening Ceremony.” About a week prior to the traditional opening ceremonies, which have typically served as the formal introduction to the games of the Olympiad, Seacrest was joined by legendary athletes and celebrities to spread the excitement and dub these games as the “most social” Olympic games ever.

Historically, the average age of viewers of Olympic events ranged between 46 and 48 years. There was a concerted effort this year to attract a more wide-range demographic. According to, NBC had a rigorous social and digital campaign for the games, including a $200 million partnership with BuzzFeed, aiming for its early 20s target audience (

Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, this year there were multiple avenues to consume Olympic-content, whereas typically, it had just been televised.

And it’s not just how the media interacted with us; through every social outlet, athletes were communicating with us, too! Diver Tom Daley snapchatted his trip to Brazil from day one; tennis star Serena Williams shared her training sneak peeks; track and field’s Usain Bolt posted patriotic tweets; and volleyball’s Kerri Walsh Jennings balanced her posts between family and bumps/sets/spikes.

As of this writing, the official Instagram account of the U.S. Olympic Committee, @teamusa, had 702,000 followers and 2,000-plus posts!

Looking ahead? The International Olympic Committee confirmed five new sports to be included in the Tokyo 2020 Games. Skateboarding, baseball/softball, karate, sports climbing and surfing will all have places at the next games, resulting in the “most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic programme in modern history,” according to an August 3 press release on (

In the same announcement, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach explained, “We want to take sport to the youth.”

Millennials continue to change the way we engage with our world, and the way the world engages with us. This power of transformation unfolds with every moment. There’s no telling what the future holds.


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